Good morning to you, my dear readers!
After visiting Porto Carras I decided to head to the one of the most interesting places in Greece – the islands near the Turkish coastline. The road to Kavala took me about a day, though there are only about 190 kilometers by land. The point is that I didn’t want to go there by bus or car, and on the third day of my stay in Porto Carras I met a guy who needed to go to Kavala on his yacht. After a while he invited me to go with him and see the coast of Greece from the sea.
We had a really nice journey! Nicolas (that is the name of the sailor) showed me gorgeous panoramas of the coast line. Being a teacher of history by profession, Nicolas told me lots of interesting stories from the present and past about the places we’ve passed by. I was pleased to see the Mount of Athos. Nicolas told me that now it is the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain.
The history of the Athos began long time ago. They say that the first settlements of monks (or sketes) appeared as far back as at the beginning of the 8th century. Since that time they grew and increased and the number of various monasteries reached even the number of 180. Today with the decline of religious eagerness there are only 20 of them left. Nicolas said that at the beginning of the 20th century the population of monks of Athos reached its peak of more than 10 thousand inhabitants. And now there are 5 times less.
Athos has its own rules. For example, women are not allowed to enter the territory of this state. Though there have been several exceptions. Some of the orthodox families were allowed to receive asylum during some wars and rebellions (like those against Turkish dominion in the 19th century). My new friend also told me that his uncle used to be a monk of Athos. It may seem strange, but monasteries still follow Julian calendar. What’s more, they still consider the sunset to be the beginning of the new day. That’s why the difference in time between Athos monasteries and Greece reaches from 3 to7 hours depending on the location of the monastery.
Nicolas remembers the time Greece was going to join European community. Monks were against it being afraid that their centuries-old traditions would be violated. Luckily they got a special status and still may live their quiet and secluded life.
The Greek sailor wanted also to show me the photos of his family, especially the uncle. But his iPhone’s battery ran down. Fortunately I had my Volts Lightning Cable with me. So by the end of the journey I managed to see the photos.
In the port I bid farewell to Nicolas and thanked him for the unplanned marine excursion. That night I decided to stay in town before taking ferry to the Saint Eustratius island. Here the prices for accommodation are generally not low, but I’ve found a nice place with the city view.